Effectively serving as the second Idle Hands album under a new name, it only makes sense for Unto Others’ Strength (Roadrunner Records) to continue the mix of Classic Metal and Gothic Rock last seen with 2019’s Mana. However, debuting with a sound balancing two distinct styles like this inevitably raises the possibility of a tug o’ war taking place on subsequent offerings. In this scenario, it begs the question whether the band will prioritize their Metal side or their Gothic side. But as they say in that one Taco Bell commercial: “Why not both?”
Like 2018’s Becoming A Demon EP before it, Silver Talon’s first full-length album feels like the missing link between Sanctuary and Nevermore. The latter is especially felt with the sweeping layers of Jeff Loomis-style shred guitar, modern tones, and densely arranged vocal melodrama ala mid-era Warrel Dane. There is also an underlying Power Metal spirit throughout is perhaps most rooted in something like Refuge Denied or even classic Queensryche. The band has only doubled down on that spirit with Decadence And Decay (M-Theory Audio).
Bewitcher has always stood out for having a more melodic slant than their Blackened Speed Metal peers and that distinction is at its most apparent on their third album. The band’s Venom meets Running Wild style leans much in the latter’s favor on Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media Records). The guitar rhythms are noticeably more accessible with more flamboyant leads above them and more dynamic song structures to match. Even the blatant Welcome To Hell worship on ‘Satanic Magick Attack’ has an almost Hard Rock flair to it.
It’s been just a little over a year since Purification unleashed their first album, Destruction Of The Wicked, but their second already comes with some interesting developments. The style on Perfect Doctrine (ODLC PRODUCTIONS, INC.) may be rooted in the same post-Reverend Bizarre Doom Metal, but the Portlandians’ dynamic has dramatically shifted. The recruitment of drummer Count Darragh has led to them growing from a duo to a more conventional trio, allowing Lord Donangato Resurrected to focus on lead guitar alongside William Marshall Purify’s established rhythms and warbling vocals.
Seminal early 1990s Seattle Punk band Bikini Kill has announced to three reunion shows taking place in Los Angeles and New York. The shows are at LA’s Hollywood Palladium on April 25 and NYC’s Brooklyn Steel on May 31 and Terminal 5 on June 1. Tickets for all shows go on sale Friday (1/18) at 9am PT/12pm ET with AmEx presales for the NYC shows starting Wednesday (1/16) at 12pm ET at the links below. Classic Bikini Kill lineup members Kathleen Hanna on vocals, Tobi Vail on drums, and Kathi Wilcox on bass, with Erica Dawn Lyle on guitar. The band last played together in 2017 when Bikini Kill made a surprise, one-off reunion appearance at The Raincoats’ event at The Kitchen. The various members of the band have stayed busy with other bands (The Julie Ruin, Le Tigre, gSp) and more. Hopes are high for more shows in the future. Continue reading
Portland’s Usnea is not one of your proto-typical Doom bands, and there is so much more on offer than just down-tuned, droning noise, so coming to their new record, Portals Into Futility (Relapse) with an open mind is an absolute requirement as not only will it writhe and wrap itself around your very being, it will also frustrate and at times make you long for the next song.Continue reading
The Pacific Northwest is practically the home of the US metal these days. Stoner-Rock and the long standing doom movement in the area has been enjoying a killer few years and it has been exciting to watch the growth of certain acts. Black Pussy is one of those bands that sprouted from a seedling and have become a fully-fledged member of the fraternity in their own right. Their new album Magic Mustache (Made In China Records) is a testament to that fact with track after of catchy, rocking tunes with just enough weird quotient to take them further.
Front man Dustin Hill is really the straw that stirs the drink with his taste for almighty riff, tons of trippy psychedelic references, and a wry lyrical sense. Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Pentagram, and Goblin spring to mind right away as touch points. The grooves are thick and copious, and even though they get mentioned a lot with hometown homeboys Red Fang, Black Pussy is cut even more from the cloth of Kyuss and the lineage of bands from 60s. Tracks like ‘Let’s Start A War’, ‘Into Your Cosmic’, ‘Protopipe’ arrive with major jammage and have a classic feel to them immediately without falling into histrionics to get your attention. The entire album is dotted with tons of hummable licks and dope solos for the guitar nerds to drool over. Keith “Chief” O’Dell’s fun keyboard work will put a smile on your face to go with your dry-mouth. None of the tracks seem to overstay their welcome, rather Dustin and his cohorts like to say what they want to say, and split.
One of the marks of a really good album is that singles are strong (‘For the Sake of Argument’ in particular), but the album cuts are better. Black Pussy is a band that has been cultivating their sound for a long time and Magic Mustache is the culmination of their hard work. Time to spark it up!
I know that I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but, goodness me, Atriarch’s latest foray into the blackened musical underworld, the beguiling An Unending Pathway (Relapse) is a very strange record. Strange in a good way, you understand. It’s strange in a disconcerting, haunting and sometimes unnerving way as well, if truth be known. Are you getting the picture yet? Yep, the third album from these curious citizens of Portland, Oregon is all kinds of odd.
Atriarch’s artistic growth gathered pace with their last album The Ritual of Passing (Profound Lore) which was a veritable smorgasbord of musical ideas, breathless interludes and a properly scary undercurrent running throughout. Having moved to Relapse Records, you would not be entirely surprised if the band played things to the gallery and delivered something relatively safe. Proverbial hats off to them then as An Unending Pathway, if anything, packs in more ideas and textures than its predecessor and, despite the often diverse, uncompromising approaches and innovations they have opted for, feels completely cohesive and immersive, In other words, I like it a lot.
Opening track ‘Entropy’ begins proceedings with distinct echoes of Slipknot’s ‘515’, an imagined Hades vomiting up its gnarled and gnarly denizens from their sulphuric lair into our seemingly doomed world. In terms of setting atmosphere and a sense of menace of impending doom, it does it with remarkable aplomb. Dark chants and incantations preface a dark rock track that, vocally, sounds akin to what would happen had The Fall’s Mark E Smith had ever accepted an invitation to join Black Sabbath.
There’s a similarly moody gothic undercurrent to ‘Collapse’ with its tribal drum patterns, evil monk like chanting and slow burn menace. The military two step drumming at the beginning of ‘Revenant’ soon gives way to a black metal influenced noise rock that is bristling with malevolence and tortured anguish – Atriarch’s lot is clearly not a happy one. This deep sense of melancholy reaches its zenith on the brilliant ‘Bereavement’ where the black metal riffing and harrowing screams seem entirely apposite for the song’s subject matter; vocalist Lenny Smith puts in quite an extraordinary stint here where you believe completely in the singer’s pain and anguish.
The efficient balancing act between hard riffing and brooding melody is a key aspect across the whole album and that light and shade delivery keeps you engaged throughout. Whilst the black metal influences are nicely extolled there is no attempt to pummel the listener into submission: although claustrophobic, there is still room to take a breath and for the songs to inveigle their way into your cerebral cortex. This coaxing and coaching of the listener is perhaps best shown on the cacophonous delight that is ‘Rot’; rarely can bodily decomposition sound so appalling yet, in parallel, appealing.
An Unending Path is perhaps best experienced alone, in the dark with candles and lots of red wine. It is a richly textured album, full of strange vignettes, harrowing imagery and not a little guile and cunning. It’s the sort of record that you don’t think you will like, don’t think you’re enjoying when listening to it but you keep coming back to it, time and again, for another glimpse into the darkness that Atriarch have conjured. Like I said, strange: very strange indeed.
I love sloths. Slow, easy living, tree-hugging, cute in a strange kind of way…That’s not this Portland, Oregon, trio though – bristling with a fulminating, ireful energy, Sloths’ sludgy brutality is tempered by streams of post-hardcore lead guitar twisting through distortion, whilst diseased growls and Nate Sonenfield‘s Jeremy Bolm-like harrowing screams express previously unspeakable agonies. Indeed ‘Void’, the second offering of the three-track EP Twenty Years (Independent), is Touche Amore from the swamps, with downturned riffs waking a lazy, pensive build; Kyle Bates‘ agonised post leadwork and Sonenfield’s screams overtaken by a jagged, rumbling crescendo, the cavernous riffs causing mountains to shake.
The at times frenetic drumming and tortured roars driving the unhinged new-wave of closer ‘Passing’ are again moderated by those moody, chiming leads; the accompanying leaden force and delicious time changes the final urgency of an intriguing sound. Three tracks is not easy to judge the overall potential of a band but the signs here are really promising with the sounds and feelings of pain, hatred and unbearable sadness portrayed bitterly and beautifully.
These guys might not be as cuddly as the real thing, but they’re bloody impressive. The EP is free through bandcamp, but Twenty Years is well worth some of your hard-earned.